Category Archives: off the rack

off the rack: bb dakota hazel leopard coat

bb-dakota-hazel-leopard-coat, via shopping's my cardio

It’s not often these days that I have a bona fide wardrobe regret. You know the ones I mean – those “missed connections”, where you hem and haw, debate and justify, and by the time you make up your mind, the piece is long gone. At which point, you become convinced it was The One – the only thing that would ever, could ever, make your closet complete.

Yes, I don’t have those moments often these days, being a founding member of the “Buy Now, Return Later Foundation for the Chronically Indecisive”. But one I can’t let go is that beautiful linen leopard print coat from Emerson Fry a few seasons back. Remember that?

Read on

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let’s chat! nordstrom anniversary sale scores

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks, via shopping's my cardio

{Editor’s Note: Back to our regularly scheduled cardio next week, I promise. Plus, I’ll have big news. Huge. You’re going to love it. Meet me back here Monday?}

Happy Friday, friends! Or, perhaps more importantly, Happy-First-Day-of-the-Nordstrom-Anniversary-Sale for those of you who couldn’t shop Early Access. Now that everyone‘s getting their shop on, I thought we’d try something new this weekend. How about we chat in the comments about all of the goodies you nabbed in the sale? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!  Read on

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off the rack: burberry trench

I know, I know, after my big Chanel splurge this spring, I had no business. No business at all. But…do you want to hear the story? I thought so!

I first saw this Burberry Prorsum trench in that fantastic Resort 2012 runway show I attended at Nordstrom, at which my pal Kim and I fawned over it to no end – classic lines, amazing fabric, and that gorgeous papaya-colored leather trim! It’s a classic, but on a whole new level.

burberry off the rack: burberry trench

But it was nearly $4,000. Never, ever, ever happening.

Fast-forward to last weekend, when I spotted that very same trench, looking all forlorn on a rack in the back of the designer department. That rack? It was the sale rack. Which had just been marked down to 60% off.

Turns out my new coat was the last one in the company. I couldn’t very well just leave it there all alone, could I? I had a big pile of Nordstrom “notes” (store credit rewards from my last unreasonable splurge) and a little gift card I’d been saving, so the upshot was that I got this gorgeous thing for less than I’d have paid for a classic trench from Burberry Brit.

Sure, my wallet didn’t find the timing exactly perfect, but sometimes the fashion gods speak, and you have no choice but to listen. The money will sort itself out (it always does), but this trench? It’ll be in my closet forever.

The moral? You just never know what will go on sale, friends. I’d have never predicted this in a million years, but here we are: fashion kismet. And just in time, too…I’d splurged on (and returned) two big boxes to Zara and Net-a-Porter only days before.  It was definitely a good reminder in the value of saving for splurges, even when you don’t yet know what they are.

There’s nothing I love more than a good story about fashion kismet. Do you have one? What’s your best find – the one that was just meant to be?

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off the rack double feature: cropped pants

Cropped pants. I should probably disclose, before telling you that I’ve just bought two pair, that I really, strongly dislike them. Sure, they’re adorable on Audrey. But then, what isn’t? Not exactly the best measure for success. In general, they tend to be seriously unflattering on women with curves – too loose in the backside, too tight on the calves, too short to create that long, lean line that lends us all a hand every now and then.

And yet. Spring rolls around and suddenly longer trousers just feel out of place. So, I was determined to make these work for me. And I found some options!

First rule of cropped pants: length is key. Subtitle: Capris are terrible. They make your calves look huge, and instantly beg the comparison in size between your calves and thighs, which no one needs. If you’re going cropped, the only way to get that long, slim silhouette you’re after is if the hem hits that flattering spot right around your ankle bone. No part of your calf should be exposed.

Second rule of cropped pants: tailoring. Bubble butt is a huge problem with this style for some reason. But, it’s easily solved by your favorite tailor. A couple of well-placed darts on the backside, and you’ll have a fabulous fit – best $20 you’ll ever spend.

So, my two finds? First, an ankle-length printed pant from Talbots.

paisley off the rack double feature: cropped pants

The paisley print felt more modern, and a bit more unique than all the florals floating around out there (it also looks an awful lot like something from Stella McCartney’s spring line, but no complaints here). The length is just about perfect on me, so anyone 5’8″ or less is set. They’re also insanely cheap just now – $45, plus an additional 40% off. They do require a little tailoring in the rear department, but you can more than afford it at that price.

Next up is the ubiquitous Minnie pant from J.Crew (which does not photograph well…sorry). They’re surprisingly flattering, but too short. So, semi-genius solution: I ordered them in a Tall size. Perfect! J.Crew is one of those brands with faux-tall sizes – all they do is adjust the length, with no change to the rise or any other measurement. So I often order a tall since I’m right on the cusp – better to hem than to flood. I went with boring black here, as I thought too many of the other colors looked like aerobic leggings once on. Give yourself a little room in this style to prevent that. I could have worn an 8, but went up to a 10 so they looked less legging, more pant.

What are your feelings on the cropped pant? Are you two old friends, or are you phobic like me?

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off the rack: madewell shadowspot maxi skirt

For my latest “Off the Rack” installment, I thought I’d show off a buy that took me nearly a year to work up to. It’s not a splurge, but it is a bit of a stretch…for my fashion sense, at least.

You see, I bought a maxi skirt. Despite the fact that I haven’t exactly advocated the maxi in any of its forms (I even hate the word “maxi”), and despite the fact that a maxi – particularly this specific one, made entirely of silk – is anything but practical for a rainy town like Portland. Frankly, I blame Downton Abbey for convincing me I could pull it off.

So, after trying it on nearly a year ago at Madewell, I finally succumbed to the silk maxiskirt…and on final sale, no less.

P1000830 off the rack: madewell shadowspot maxi skirt

It’s a huge style departure for me, but I’m doing my best to limp along. So far, I’ve figured out the following, which I think is useful whether we’re talking maxi skirts or maxi dresses:

  • No ballet flats – they make it look far too, well, twee, as the Brits would say. Ankle boots work well, as will certain sandals in the spring.
  • A waist is essential. I’m taking a cue from my favorite Downton Abbey ladies here, who do an impressive job of showing off their figures despite seemingly insurmountable quantities of fabric. So, either belt or wear something very figure-conscious on your top half (a buttoned blazer, belted cardigan or a fitted lace tee are my current favorites).
  • Something’s got to give. You can’t go completely romantic with this look, or you’ll start to resemble an extra in a period movie. Add edge somewhere – maybe a leather jacket instead of a cardigan, or a tough ankle boot from Frye over something more sweet.

All that sage advice comes from wearing this exactly once, wherein I spent more than an hour trying to figure out how to style it. What works, what doesn’t…it all becomes painfully obvious when it’s staring back at you in a mirror and you’re late for a coffee date, no?

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off the rack: tory burch penny loafer

{Editor’s Note: I’ve been thinking about it, and I spend all this time showing you my virtual shopping, but not a lot of time showing you what actually ends up in my closet. To clear things up, I’ve decided to start a little series called Off The Rack, where I’ll periodically show off a new goodie that’s made it, well, off the rack and into my closet. I’d love for this to become a group effort, so please – tell me all about your latest buys in the comments!}

If you follow me on Twitter or Pinterest (ahem!), you may have noticed that my itch for a great pair of penny loafers has gotten serious. I bought those Tods loafers I showed you a while back, but really…suede driving mocs in Portland are a bad choice. Back they went.

As soon as I laid eyes on these pretty pennies from Tory Burch, though, I knew I’d met my match (the extra 25% off sale didn’t hurt). I was convinced black was the way to go – classic, and all that. Thank goodness a dear friend assured me I really wanted the red. I awaited this package so very anxiously, I knew she’d made the right call. And in fact, they’ve scarcely been back in the box since they arrived. They’re the perfect shade of lipstick red, with details like that lovely pinked tongue and the gold logo on the vamp to make them look ultra luxe. I’m wearing them with everything – jeans, wintery wool skirts, and my favorite skinny trousers – and I can’t wait to pair them with shorts, come spring.

Photo1 off the rack: tory burch penny loafer
Photo2 off the rack: tory burch penny loafer

What’s new in your closet this week?

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